Beginning life as the Harrison Street Business Alliance in 1993, the rebranded Oak Park Arts District captured the new reality of a growing artistic community on Harrison. Encompassing the half mile of Harrison Street from Austin Boulevard to Elmwood Avenue, the area is home to a thriving artistic community as well as a diverse variety of small enterprises. In addition to galleries and workshops focusing on the visual and performing arts, visitors can find businesses offering personal care services, health care and wellness, clothing and jewelry, restaurants and cafes, pet services, social services and building services.
As commercial districts have become increasingly auto-focused and dominated by national brands, The Arts District presents a refreshing model of creative reuse, restoring vitality to a small-scale and walkable urban neighborhood. The semi-residential character and leafy streets create a user-friendly atmosphere for visitors. Access is superb: the CTA Blue Line and the Eisenhower Expressway connect the district easily to the whole Chicago metro area. Several special events punctuate the year: First, What’s Blooming on Harrison in May is succeeded by Art on Harrison, the district’s signature event in October, with Holiday Lights, the year’s finale. Third Friday Gallery Walks are scheduled year-round.
In 2017, the Oak Park Area Arts Council began managing the Sculpture Walk.